Skip to main content

Full text of "A search in secret Egypt"

i7i             A SEARCH IN SECRET EGYPT
in public, at certain dates, which kept the story of Osiris before the populace. A very few of these performances came within the category of the Mysteries, in the sense of giving an easily understood, popular version of them; they corresponded to the Mystery Play olancient Greece, and the Passion Play of medieval and modern Europe, such as the Christ-drama which is still performed at Ober-Ammergau in Bavaria. The real Mysteries, however, must not be confused with them and were never performed publicly and were much more than play-acting. The public performances were symbolical and sacred, but did not reveal any hidden secrets to the audience; hence the ancient popular spectacle of the Death and Resurrection of Osiris must not be thought of as the inner mysteries
The popular, personal celebrations and external ceremonies were held for the mass of people, whom they suited admirably; but there was a more philosophic doctrine and secret practice for the intelligentsia. The spiritually educated and instructed Egyptians, the nobility and the high-born, knew that and, when so inclined, sought admission to them.
The temples had special and isolated buildings for the Mysteries, which were performed by a small and selected number of priests, called hierophants; and these secret rites were carried on by the side of, and outside, the daily ceremonies for the worship of the gods. The Egyptians, themselves, called these rites the "Mysteries."
The supernormal character of the Greater Mysteries, with which the ritual dramas had little to do, was hinted at by various initiates, as when once one of them declared: "Thanks to the Mysteries, death for mortals is not an evil but a good/' This could only mean that he had actually become a corpse and yet had received a great benefit from the experience. The hieroglyphic texts speak of such a one as "twice-born," and he was permitted to add to his name the words "he who has renewed his life," so that on some tomb-inscriptions archaeologists still discover these phrases descriptive of the spiritual status of the defunct person.
What were the greatest secrets that the successful candidates learned in the Mysteries?
That depended on the degree through which they passed, but all their experiences could roughly be condensed into two results, which formed the core of the revelations they received.
In the earlier degrees, the candidates were made acquainted